The Manhattan Manko junior 17ers opened their season this weekend with mixed results in the 21st annual Tournament of Champions, held at Norvell Field.
The 17ers began the tournament in dominating fashion Friday afternoon with a 16-2 thrashing of the Salina Hawks. Manhattan fell in the nightcap, though, and was defeated by the Kansas Mudcats out of Topeka, 10-0.
Saturday afternoon, the 17ers faced Salina again and the Hawks returned the favor with a 13-2 win over Manhattan in four innings.
The results of Manhattan’s final contest against the Mudcats were not available as of press time, but will be available in Monday’s Mercury.
Manhattan head coach Dan Rumsey said his team struggled where he expected them to struggle, especially considering the fact the team had its first practice less than a week ago.
“It’s tough,” Rumsey said. “Coming into this weekend you’re still getting people in and you want to see arms on the mound to live batters and what not.
“But they are all really coachable and that’s what I like to see.”
In Friday’s win against the Hawks, starting pitcher Isaac Leon threw all four innings and gave up just two runs — none earned — on five hits with one walk and one strikeout. Offensively, Jake Olson led the way with a 3 for 3 outing at the plate.
“Overall we have a lot of stuff we can work with and work on,” Rumsey said. “We’re doing a really good job at the plate and I like the approach we’ve got going.
“But our pitchers need to start filling it up a little more… throwing a lot of strikes, reducing our walks and hit-by-pitches and stuff like that.”
The TOC has traditionally been a tournament that approaches fast for area teams, and Rumsey said there are benefits to hitting the ground running — despite the fact Manhattan was only able to log in two full days of practice due to weather.
“You dive in head first and you see what these guys are made of,” he said. “You see the ones that bow their shoulders and take it, and in the other sense you see the ones that fold.
“But I feel like all of our guys have taken it in a way we can work with. They’re all tough guys, really coachable, and we’ll see what happens after this.”